In this deck, the Nordic imagery is complemented by symbolic animals, from wolves (for protection) to owls (for wisdom), which provide a deeper insight into the cards’ meanings. A keyword is included on each card, indicating its main theme at a glance.from the guidebook by Jayne Wallace
This lovely deck comes with a small full-color guidebook and an extra card that is by a different artist altogether. The backs of the cards show the aurora borealis and they are not reversible. Strength is 11; Justice is 8. The card stock is sturdy but flexible and it shuffles well. It’s glossy but doesn’t stick together or feel like plastic.
I did not realize this was a pip deck when I bought it. That is: the minor arcana shows only 8 cups for the 8 of Cups, not a man walking away from cups. There are no humans or animals on the minors, just the suit emblems. However, there are keywords to indicate the meaning. The 8 of Cups keyword is Doorways. The suits are color-coded, so the backgrounds of pentacles feature orange, cups are blue, wands are green, and swords are purple (since she kept the standard elemental correspondences for the suits, I’m unsure why the author didn’t use green for pentacles and orange for wands).
The court cards show quiet figures who appear to be in meditation. In fact, only two court cards have their eyes open: the Queen of Pentacles and King of Wands.
There is no nudity in the deck. There is also no diversity: as it’s a Nordic-themed deck, everyone depicted is white (and because it’s a pips deck, over half the card don’t have a person depicted at all). There is a bit of age diversity, with some characters appearing younger and some being older men with beards. Most of the cards show women with long hair or men with short hair; a few of them could be androgynous.
The artwork is gentle and dreamlike, and the colors are calming even on the cards with an orange color scheme.
What drew me to the deck was the one-word keywords on the cards. I don’t usually use decks with keywords but I liked the succinct way the essence of the card was summarized: happiness for the Sun, movement for the Chariot, limbo for the Hanged Man. If you’re switching to Tarot after reading oracle decks, you may find these cards easier to read and more familiar to you than a traditional Tarot deck.
Who might like this deck? Young people or people who read for a more conservative clientele may appreciate the lack of nudity. Anyone who likes the cards to be soothing and calm.
The guidebook, while brief, is well written. For the Ten of Swords, it reads:
Known as a card of goodbyes, the Ten of Swords marks the end of one era and start of another. Lots of drama can be expected as bridges are burnt and bonds are broken. Events will unfold swiftly and boldly, leaving no room for wishful thinking or doubt. A relationship could end abruptly, or a friend might be in your life one minute, and out of it the next. Betrayals in love, friendships, and work are possible, and a hurtful truth could break your heart, but clear your vision. Look forward rather than back: if it should have been, it would have been; learn from it and move on.p. 62 of the guidebook
So the meaning intended by the card, whose keyword is Completion, is the standard meaning but the illustration is much less scary since the ten swords are not piercing a human body. They’re merely floating, pointed downward.
Who might not like this deck? People who don’t like keywords on the cards or pips for the minors. If either of those issues bother you, this is not the deck for you. People who are or who read for a clientele who is racial minorities or LGBTQ may wish there was some representation. People who were really drawn to the Nordic theme might wish it had been developed more fully.
If you’re drawn to the artwork, you will like the deck. There is nothing jarring or unpleasant to surprise you when you get it home. Overall I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars, and honestly it would have been a 4 if the box had warned me that it was pips. That was a disappointment, but if I’d gone into it knowing that I could have appreciated the deck more.
The Magical Nordic Tarot
Jayne Wallace, illustrated by Hannah Davies
CICO Books, 2020
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